A large crowd of people lined up along Bellevue Avenue in downtown Hammonton, New Jersey to welcome Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway as she returned home to be grand marshal for the town’s annual Christmas parade.
Conway played a pivotal role in the recent election, becoming the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign in the U.S.
While there were a few protesters at the event, who said organizers were injecting partisan politics into a town tradition, the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive.
Having grown up in nearby Atco, Conway was happy to return to her childhood home, where she said she said she first got the political bug. In 1984, when she was a high school senior, President Ronald Reagan spoke in Hammonton.
Conway went from working at Indian Brand Blueberry Farms in Atlantic County to taking over as campaign manager in August, successfully guiding the Trump-Pence ticket to the White House.
“Hammonton is a place where people are raised to believe that they can do anything and be anyone they want,” she said, being careful not to inject partisan politics into her comments.
Conway thanked those in attendance and said she felt blessed to be from this part of South Jersey. She encouraged residents to share that hometown spirit and do something special for someone else this holiday season.
“Spread the real cheer and the generosity and the sheer love that comes from being in Hammonton,” said Conway.
Conway didn’t talk about the campaign, but she did ask the audience to pray for the current and future administrations.
“Ladies and gentlemen, after eight years, I would ask you to pray for our outgoing president and vice-president,” said Conway. “I would ask you to pray for our new president and vice-president.”
Lynn Strigh was one of the many people braving frigid conditions to catch a glimpse of Kellyanne Conway. She said she knew Conway when she was younger. They picked blueberries together. She was excited to see a local person excel on the national stage.
“We are just so proud of her and I just knew that the day that it was announced that she was going to be the campaign manager,” Strigh said, “I cried for days of joy and happiness.”
When asked about her future, Conway was uncertain. She said President-elect Trump has given her the opportunity to work with him in the West Wing, or to do something on the outside as an advisor. As a mother of four, Conway said being able to spend time with her children is her first priority.
“It’s just a decision that we’ll make in due course, but in any event, the President-elect and the Vice President-elect know that I support them completely in their new journey in Washington.”
She did say men overpopulate Republican politics and she was grateful that Donald Trump believed in her and gave her an opportunity. Conway praised Hillary Clinton for being a nominee for a major political party.
“That’s no small feat”, she said.